Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day: January 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is a federal holiday on Monday, January 18, 2010. Schools across America are closed. This day is set aside to celebrate the birthday of the Civil Rights leader, minister, and Nobel Peace prize recipient who was assassinated on April 14, 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King, Jr., Day into federal law on November 2, 1983. Here is the text of President Reagan's speech.

In the August 27, 1963 edition of the Honolulu Star Bulletin an editorial entitled ‘The Right of Petition’ was published. This was the day before the March on Washington, at a time when racial tensions were high. We provide our visitors with the following excerpts as food for thought:

This centennial year of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation has been chosen for renewed efforts on the part of Negro leaders to assert their rights as Americans, to hasten the legal process of implementing the constitutional guarantees of those rights.

No longer are the nation’s Negroes willing to wait for the vaguely promised changes in attitude that education might bring –for they have not been forthcoming.

The Negro has, of course, every bright to demand everything that is legally his as an American. The right to vote, to attend the public school in his neighborhood, peaceably to voice his protests, to enjoy public facilities. And he has the right to insist that these guarantees be spelled out in the law of the land, and that those charged with the enforcement of the law be compelled to see that these laws are enforced.

But the real victory for the Negro, and from all others who differ physically from the white majority in this country, awaits the time when people are enlightened enough to recognize that the brotherhood of man transcends the physical variegrations of the species.

While prejudice exists, it will be passed along from one generation to the next, for the child’s prejudices are born out of those of its parents. We can hope that these prejudices will in time be diluted so that the transmitted strain becomes less virulent with the passing generations.

This is what the Negro has been asked to wait for. But in many parts of the country there is no evidence that the strain was, in fact, becoming less virulent, and so now the Negro seeks to establish his legal rights and to insist that he be protected in them. This is the reason for the March on Washington.

Rev. Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech is posted on YouTube.

Go to this link at History.com for a summary of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day holiday.

Rev. Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His speech on this occasion was delivered on December 10, 1964 in Norway. Go to this link for its text and an audio version.

The National Parks Service (NPS) provides online access to the King family home, including various resources.

For many Americans going to Rev. Dr. King’s birth home is not possible. However, the National Parks Service provides a “virtual tour” by clicking this link:

NPS also provides online historic resource study materials as well as photos and multimedia presentations ideal for classroom use.

For teachers, NPS provides a variety of instructional resources suitable for classroom use.


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